Atlanta’s Starting Pitching Depth

The Braves blew a late-inning lead before losing a painful game to the Phillies tonight, but if Atlanta goes on to win in the playoffs this year, their bullpen will probably be a major reason for their success. The Braves’ late inning trio of Eric O'Flaherty, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel is as good as it gets.

Brandon Beachy

Health permitting, the three relievers figure to return to Atlanta in 2012, but the same can’t necessarily be said for the Braves’ starting corps. Every one of the eight pitchers who has started a game for the Braves in 2011 is under team control next year and with a trio of MLB-ready arms entering the discussion for big league rotation spots, it won’t be surprising if the Braves hear an offer or two for their surplus arms.

Before we get too carried away with assumptions about health, it’s important to note that two Braves starters are on the disabled list and another one is dealing with an injury. Kris Medlen hasn’t pitched since undergoing Tommy John surgery last August and won’t be ready before 2012. Tommy Hanson is also on the disabled list (shoulder) and Jair Jurrjens (knee) is banged up as well.

Despite those injuries, the Braves have a full rotation: Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Brandon Beachy (pictured), Mike Minor and Randall Delgado. Top prospects Arodys Vizcaino and Julio Teheran (who will start one of tomorrow’s games) also represent viable rotation options for manager Fredi Gonzalez.

All told, the Braves have nine options. Hudson, Lowe, Jurrjens, Hanson, Beachy and Minor have all had extended looks in the rotation this year, Teheran, Delgado and Vizcaino spent most of the 2011 season in the minors and Medlen, a wild card heading into 2012, hasn’t pitched at all. 

Not only do the Braves have nine pitchers around in 2012, most of them are under team control in 2013 (Lowe’s contract expires after next season and the Braves have a $9MM club option for Hudson in ’13). This group isn’t going anywhere.

As unusual as it is for a team to have too much pitching, this Braves team may find themselves with extra arms over the winter. Unlike most teams, however, the Braves already have the main components of their roster in place for 2012. They won’t have many obvious holes to address over the winter.

Yet the Braves aren’t set at every position – shortstop Alex Gonzalez hits free agency and Martin Prado hasn't shown the on-base skills or power you'd expect from a left fielder. If the Braves decide not to retain the slick-fielding Gonzalez and opt to move Prado back into a utility role, they could have holes at shortstop and left field (assuming they don’t view Jose Constanza as a permanent solution). 

The Braves are a playoff-caliber team and they seem poised to contend in 2012, but significant needs could emerge within a month or two. Wren avoided last year's free agent frenzy and if he hopes to do the same this offseason without ignoring possible weaknesses, he could make the organization's pitching depth available in trades.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


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115 Comments on "Atlanta’s Starting Pitching Depth"


Colin Christopher
3 years 11 months ago

Hudson, Lowe, Jurrjens, Hanson, Beachy, Minor, Teheran, Delgado, Vizcaino, and Medlen makes TEN options for the Braves, not nine, heading into 2012.

3 years 11 months ago

if you look Medlen will not be ready for the 2012 season. So it is nine.

MLB_in_the_Know
3 years 11 months ago

“wont be ready before 2012.” meaning he wont be ready this year.

Colin Christopher
3 years 11 months ago

If I look at what? Nowhere in this article does it say Medlen will not be ready for 2012. However, if you ask Medlen (which Rotoworld did) or the Braves training staff (which the AJC did), Medlen will be ready for Spring Training 2012. 

If YOU look, you will see that this is an article about the Braves’ pitching depth heading into 2012. So it is ten.

Kevin
3 years 11 months ago

Is a Christian Colon for Vizcaino trade too farfetched? Would love to see KC trade for one of Delgado, Minor or Vizcaino.

LioneeR
3 years 11 months ago

The article says that Viz is a SP option, but he has good stuff that plays best in the back end of the bullpen.  I personally hope he is in the bullpen for the Braves next year.  

I don’t see even a top 50 prospect for Delgado, Minor, Teheran, or Viz making much sense.  6 years of control of a middle to top of the rotation arm is way more valueable then a kid a few years away.  Also it looks like he hasn’t hit much in AA .668 OPS

roberty
3 years 11 months ago

I would try to trade Minor for a high ceiling prospect who might be a
couple years away like Jurickson Profar.  If Hanson ends the
season in good health the Rangers might be willing to put together a
package based around Profar, Cody Buckel and Christian Villanueva.  The Rangers have a strong farm system and will need a front of the rotation starter if CJ Wilson signs elsewhere.

3 years 11 months ago

Rumor has it that CJ Wilson will sign with the Angels in the offseason, as he wants to play closer to his Souther Cali home…imagine him and Jered Weaver in the same rotation…

RiverKKiller999
3 years 11 months ago

You forgot about Haren.

vtadave
3 years 11 months ago

Profar is probably a top-5 prospect in the game right now.  Pretty sure he’s not being dealt for Mike Minor, who isn’t a front-of-the-rotation starter.

nm344
3 years 11 months ago

Dont tell that to the Braves fans

3 years 11 months ago

Jurrjens, Hanson, Beachy, Minor, Teheran, Delgado, Vizcaino, Medlen…

i’d like to see this list ranked by potential career cy young awards, and/or career ERA (including number of seasons)

[that is, i’d like to see dierkes or someone’s projections of such a list…]

3 years 11 months ago

Well you know that Tim won’t have Jurrjens near the front of that list.

EdinsonPickle
3 years 11 months ago

Well, there’s always a ten man rotation.

diehardmets
3 years 11 months ago

I think a great target for them is Alex Gordon. They have the high tier SP that the Royals need, and Gordon can play LF and shift to 3B when Jones is finally gone. As for SS, I’m not sure they can do a whole lot better than Gonzalez. Better to just keep him and hope Pastornicky or Salcedo pan out.

Sniderlover
3 years 11 months ago

Yeah except Royals have no reason to trade Gordon. 

Rangersfan32
3 years 11 months ago

Unless they get an offer for a good front of the rotation SP (their biggest need).

Derek
3 years 11 months ago

Gordon is said to get an extension this offseason from KC. I believe he is an unrestricted free agent if he doesn’t get a deal. Moustakas would be another great option, albeit not as refined.

3 years 11 months ago

or available.

twenty1thirteen
3 years 11 months ago

That would be taking one step forward and two steps back. And there is a reason Gordon was moved to LF.

Fifty_Five
3 years 11 months ago

They have more hitting prospects to come though. With all the backwards development from guys like Montgomery, Lamb, and Dwyer they need someone that’s a sure bet for the top of their rotation in the future

Colin Christopher
3 years 11 months ago

Lamb didn’t go backwards. He got hurt.

Colin Christopher
3 years 11 months ago

It’s pretty clear that you’ve never seen Alex Gordon play 3B. It’s not pretty, and it’s why he plays LF now.

flashg75
3 years 11 months ago

the braves should let Alex Gonzales go (even though I love his defense and firery personality) and go after jose reyes.

a top of the lineup with bourne, costanza, and reyes would be sick!

bravesmadduxfan
3 years 11 months ago

I just have this sinking feeling that with Rollins also being a FA this offseason, the Phillies are gonna take a good long look at Reyes as well.  Not saying they’re going to ditch Rollins, but if they do, as a Braves fan, I gotta say…. Yikes

Jeff
3 years 11 months ago

Phillies with Reyes, I’d hate to be their team doctor- so much overtime.  Their window will end in a year or two due to aging.  Great club last 3 years though, and probably still next year.

nm344
3 years 11 months ago

So the Yankees are done as well since they are ‘aging’?  How about you take a look at the Phillies payroll first before discussing any windows closing.

Jacob Swain
3 years 11 months ago

That’s exactly the problem; so much of their payroll is tied up in aging and declining players. In 2013, they will owe $25 million to Ryan Howard (33), who we already know is declining, $15 to a Chase Utley (34), who has been having knee injuries, $25 million to Cliff Lee (34), $20 million to Roy Halladay (36). That’s nearly half of this year’s payroll in 4 aging players, with only 2 other players guaranteed, which leaves them with a lot of holes to fill in less than two years.

nm344
3 years 11 months ago

I dont see your point – you sound as if those 4 guys will no longer be productive, which obviously noone knows, but even with small declines 3 out of 4 should still be stars.

Jacob Swain
3 years 11 months ago

If I had to take a guess, I would say that only Lee and Halladay will still be stars; Utley isn’t having a stellar season, and knee injuries are not kind to older players. My point is that they will have to find the money for a starting catcher, shortstop, third-baseman, left-fielder, center-fielder, two starting pitchers, and a closer with half of their salary already tied up.

nm344
3 years 11 months ago

A lot of these will be internal fill-ins.  Brown in LF, Galvis at SS.. The rest will be acquired in free agency and/or trades.  I dont see what the problem is.

Jacob Swain
3 years 11 months ago

Freddy Galvis has not provided any indication that he will be a successful hitter in the major leagues. Besides, the Phillies’ farm system is basically broken.

nm344
3 years 11 months ago

Just like Teheran, Delgado, Vizcaino, Minor haven’t proven they can successful in the majors.

LioneeR
3 years 11 months ago

Except for the fact that they have all shown that they can be successful in the majors.  

While none of them have blown the roof off the place, they have all made solid contributions, and shown flashes of brilliance.  Unless you think that rookie pitchers should immediately be pitching at a 3.00 ERA or better

Colin Christopher
3 years 11 months ago

They’re going to fill all those holes via free agency or trades? You’re living in a dreamworld. You obviously have some grasp of what their payroll is, so don’t expect a lot of action from the Phillies in free agency for a while. And what do they have to trade? Their farm system isn’t exactly flush with talent these days.

Jeff
3 years 11 months ago

I think in this era baseball players are going to decline much more rapidly then before, with some rare exceptions.  Also the Phillies sold the farm for Pence, so internal option will be difficult.  while the Phillies have a large payroll, they’re not the Yankees.

nm344
3 years 11 months ago

Phillies have a larger payroll than the Red Sox.  And you don’t hear “The Red Sox are not the Yankees”, do you?

Jacob Swain
3 years 11 months ago

Not true. The Red Sox and Phillies have identical payrolls at $166.7 million each.

nm344
3 years 11 months ago

New York Yankees $201.7  
Philadelphia $173.0 
Boston $161.4 

Wanna try again?

Jacob Swain
3 years 11 months ago

The numbers that you’ve provided, I’m assuming, are opening day figures that haven’t been updated for trades and waiver-wire activity. Check out baseball-reference’s payroll pages, unless crow isn’t your preferred meal.

Triple Hawpes Brewed
3 years 11 months ago

you’re not that bright

3 years 11 months ago

Reyes and Rollins are great, but both are really injury prone…let the Phillies have either.

Lunchbox45
3 years 11 months ago

They’d be better off trading for a SS, perhaps drew 

Jeff
3 years 11 months ago

I say get a stopgap until Simmons is ready, and give Pastornicky a shot to be that stopgap.

The Braves have a lot of flyball pitches (JJ, Beachy, Hanson), so I’d consider a better bat+ mediocre glove SS for some pitches, and A-Gon for Lowe/Hudson.

RiverKKiller999
3 years 11 months ago

Seeing as the Braves won’t have the money to get Reyes, it’s still fun to dream about. (Not happening though :( )

MLB_in_the_Know
3 years 11 months ago

I believe that after this season the Braves will trade Derek Lowe and Randell Delgado or Mike Minor (preferably Delgado). 

Trade Lowe to whoever will take the most salary. 

Trade a package built around Delgado or Minor to the White Sox for Alexei Ramirez. – They have said they are definitively interested in our young pitching, Alexei is the only player they have that would warrant such a trade. 

The rotation next year would then be:
Hudson, Hanson, Jurrjens, Beachy, Teheran with Viz and Delgado or Minor in AAA.

Medlen goes to the pen if he is ever healthy.

3 years 11 months ago

Trading Ramirez would just create a huge hole in the WS line up. It doesn’t really make much sense for them unless they were getting a really solid SS prospect back.  Like it or not, all-star SSs are harder to come by than young pitching.   (Thank you again for Yunel). 

MLB_in_the_Know
3 years 11 months ago

but if we got a player like Alexei, we would be able to include Delgado and Pastornicky, who could very well be an average MLB starting SS within a year or 2.

Bo
3 years 11 months ago

I’d love for Atlanta to go after one of the young’uns in KC. KC’s looking for pitching, and Atlanta could use a guy like Moustakas.

twenty1thirteen
3 years 11 months ago

So could the other 28 teams. Why do Braves fans keep thinking this could be a reality? All it was was irresponsible reporting by Buster Olney.

3 years 11 months ago

Because the Royals LOVE former Braves players: Bruce Chen, Kyle Davies (recently released), Melky Cabreara, Jeff Francouer, etc…we have the pitching KC needs and Dayton Moore loves working with his old team.

Jeff
3 years 11 months ago

The Royals and the Braves could make a fair deal, with real useful talent going to both sides from a position of excess for each.

kcmark
3 years 11 months ago

Like Melky Cabrera (who has a year of arb left and is 27) and Colon for JJ.  There’s you shortstop and LF for a starting pitcher.  Win-win for both teams.

3 years 11 months ago

so could KC.

DK8
3 years 11 months ago

Moustakas is not a guy the Braves should target.  One of the biggest problems of this team is OBP, and Moustakas does NOT have good plate discipline.  He should eventually hit for enough power to overcome it, but it’s not a given at this point.  And the Braves have Chipper coming back next year, so they probably will want to make a win-now move…

Gator4444
3 years 11 months ago

Heyward for Pineda

bravesmadduxfan
3 years 11 months ago

What?  Atlanta has a pitching surplus, and you’re proposing they trade for another pitcher?  Honestly.

TheHotCorner
3 years 11 months ago

Did you even read the article?  The Braves have a “surplus” of pitching.  So why would we want another pitcher. 

bravesmadduxfan
3 years 11 months ago

With Pastornicky in the wings, it would almost make more sense to re-sign Gonzalez to a one-year deal.  I understand there’s a glut of starting pitching, but unless the Braves wanted to trade for a SS who’s going to be a FA after 2012 (and it’s a thin market that year), why hold up your next big prospect?

Unless… they were to include Pastornicky in whichever deal they’d make…  Hmm…  Anyone got any ideas on who they’d trade for?  I know Ian Desmond was on the trade market earlier this year, but between streakiness at the plate, defensive lapses in the field, and maturity issues, seems like he hasn’t quite put it all together.  Another poster brought up Alexei Ramirez, but it’d be hard to imagine the White Sox giving up one of the few players in their clubhouse that manages to produce consistently.  Stephen Drew would be a nice pickup and would add a left-handed bat to the lineup, but he’s coming off a pretty serious injury and it’s hard to tell how a broken ankle would affect his range and mobility. 

No clear-cut winner, it seems.

3 years 11 months ago

I wouldn’t mind getting Ian Desmond on our team…he kills us every time we play the Nats…just like Uggla did when he played for the Marlins.  If you can’t beat ’em, add ’em to your team! :)

RiverKKiller999
3 years 11 months ago

That would be 1 of the WORST ideas. I think you better check out his fielding stats. They aren’t too promising. His hitting is sorta…..bad as well.

drumzalicious
3 years 11 months ago

With Chipper definitely coming back next year the real question is what to do with Prado. The guy was a lock for 200 hits last season before his injury. Do you just give up on him after one down season or do you see what he brings to the table next year.

As far as trades go, the Braves could very well stand pat. Letting guys like Teheran, Minor, Delgado, and Vizcaino build up innings and continue to refine their secondary pitches in AAA. Also that gives the Braves some insurance in case someone goes down with an injury.

bravesmadduxfan
3 years 11 months ago

Down year or not, I guarantee there are 29 other teams that would happily take Prado off the Braves’ hands.  He has great skills, a huge heart, and I’d wager to say, just like last year, he’s playing through a couple of nagging injuries.  If we cut bait on him after this year, it’d be a huge mistake.

As for keeping the young guys down in AAA, it seems they have very little to prove at the Minor League level.  Granted, the Braves can’t keep all four of them on the Major League roster, but it would seem to be a waste to have them beating up on AAA batters instead of gaining big league experience. 

3 years 11 months ago

This relates to his character and not his talent, but when he would go back and play ball in Venezuela he played the OF because there were so many infielders that wanted to play in games. He was better than everyone there, but gave up his spot so the younger guys could learn.

2008-2010 he hit .310. His numbers this year are really only down in hits, runs and 2B, but his K’s are way down this year as well. His babip is also at .266 this year which is 50 points below his career average and 70 below his 08-10 stats. 

nm344
3 years 11 months ago

A guy in LF that cant hit enough, or a guy at 3rd base that has no range? Hmm both choices are so tempting.

bravesmadduxfan
3 years 11 months ago

2008: .320
2009: .307
2010: .307

Totally see your point bro. What a scrub

“Can’t hit enough” LOL

nm344
3 years 11 months ago

.780 lifetime OPS is mediocre for a left fielder.   Not to mention that there is no speed or defense there to compensate for that.

Jeff
3 years 11 months ago

How about right then, maybe in a platoon with Heyward?
Then again, that could hurt Heyward’s development.

Really though, Prado should be a utility guy who can play everywhere but short decently.

3 years 11 months ago

I like Chipper’s bat, but his glove work is not nearly as good…last night, a ball got past him that a younger 3B would have gotten to.  At this point, I say next year (unless a trade is made) they should put Prado at 3B, Constanza in LF and use Chipper’s bat off the bench or have him spot start occasionally.  It’s no secret he’s in the twilight of his career, and though he WANTS to play everyday, he shouldn’t.  Prado is having a down year, but his work ethic is outstanding and he’ll bounce back next year, so we should NOT trade him.  I like the idea of a one year deal for A-Gon as a stop gap for Pastornicky, but only because of his glove…his bat stinks!  With the surplus of pitching, we could go after Moustakas from KC for 3B and keep Prado in LF next year.  I guess we’ll see what happens!

austinhb
3 years 11 months ago

no.

DK8
3 years 11 months ago

Chipper is still way above average offensively.  The Braves offense is not good enough to sit a guy like that.

Colin Christopher
3 years 11 months ago

.282 with 16 HRs and 64 RBI might be “way above average offensively” for a Braves hitter, but it most certainly is not “way above average offensively” for a major league 3B.

DK8
3 years 11 months ago

You’re using the wrong stats.  If you don’t know what the right stats are, go to Fangraphs, and click on the Glossary in the top right hand corner.  Then go open Chipper’s player page.

3 years 11 months ago

Heyward no question will be back next year and I assume Diaz and Constanza will take the backup OF spots. I really doubt one off year will send Prado out of the starting lineup as well. Wren and Freddi seem really high on these guys and Prado seems like huge leadership on this team behind Chipper and our catchers.

I like the idea of dropping Gonz and going after Reyes, even if he is injury prone. The only problem is two long term solutions in the MIF with Pastornicky and Salcedo on their way up. Maybe is a shift from Pastornicky to LF seems reasonable?

Personally if that was the case, I’d rather see the Braves make a push for Alexei Ramirez(ideally) or a Yonder Alonso/Andre Ethier type. We have huge pitching to offer as has been stated and really the most worrisome part of our team is the bottom of our lineup and the #2 spot. Having some 20 HR pop in the #7/8 spot or a reliable, veteran #2 hitter(Ramirez/Reyes) seems only logical. Those wondering about the Logistics of Alonso, I’d suggest letting him platoon Heyward and Prado for a year and take over in left after Chip retires.

All in all a really, really good position to be in for us.

Matt Talbert
3 years 11 months ago

Chipper retires.  Prado to 3b.
Jose Reyes to SS (FA signing)
OF-Bourn CF, Heyward RF, LF Platoon of Constanza/Diaz BOOM THERE YA GO.
1b-Freeman/Hinske
2b-Ugs
3b-Prado (Wilson)
SS-Reyes (Wilson)
C-McCann (Ross)Boom you set there.

bbxxj
3 years 11 months ago

Chipper isn’t retiring so that kind of messes up your whole deal there.

Quacktastic_Duck
3 years 11 months ago

BOOM tough actin Tenactin…

Colin Christopher
3 years 11 months ago

And since when have the Braves EVER had the money to sign the top FA on the market? Jose Reyes will NOT be an Atlanta Brave next season. Their better bet is to trade a pitcher to KC for Alcides Escobar or Christian Colon.

Jeff
3 years 11 months ago

For LF, given the emergence of Terdo this year in the minors, a 2-yr stopgap might be a good idea.  I think Beltran might actually be a decent target in FA, if he’ll take a 2/20 type deal.

SS- I’d look at the trade market.

The question is would Hanson+JJ as a package bring something truly elite?

Hudson, Beachy, Minor, Teheran , Delgado.  Vizcaino in AAA, Medlen/C-Mart as long man

mikeclyne
3 years 11 months ago

Braves should see if they could make a spalsh with their P depth in a trade…insteresting ideas could be to fill LF with after moving Prado to SS
Matt Kemp (only b/c of $ turmoil in LA…)
Andre Either (only b/c of $ turmoil in LA…)
Carl Crawford (huge disappointment….change of scenery?)
Carlos Beltran (FA)
Delmon Young (non-tender?)
BJ Upton
Angel Pagan (non-tender?)
Carlos Quinten
Ryan Ludwick (FA)

3 years 11 months ago

No chance Prado moves to SS.  If he could play SS, he’d be getting time there right now.  Dodgers aren’t trading any of their major talent, and there’s no chance the Braves take on Crawford’s awful contract.  The rest of the guys don’t excite me much at all.

3 years 11 months ago

Wait why aren’t the Braves trading any of their major talent in the off-season? Usually, it is good business to trade from a position of strength to fill a weakness or take advantage of a unique opportunity (perhaps a major-league ready top OF prospect).

John Kappel
3 years 11 months ago

Why wouldn’t you just put Prado into shortstop for the year until after Chipper retires? You can play Constanza in LF. Then you would have spots filled cheaper which means more money to try to lock up Michael Bourn. And oh yeah, you better damn well start saving some money because after next season McCann is a free agent who will be hitting the market as the best catcher in baseball. How much you think he is going to cost?

flashg75
3 years 11 months ago

John,

we will have plenty of $$$ for McCann after Derek Lowes 15million per year and possibly Chippers 13mill per come off the books.
I say go after Reyes b/c his high OBP, speed, defense, etc…. if we can afford him!

3 years 11 months ago

Why would you want to trade Minor??  He’s our ONLY lefty starter!  How about trading Lowe (Yanks? Red Sox?)  to get rid of some salary..  We already have KK, Gonza & some others coming off the books, and TRY to go after Reyes.  Just a pipe dream, I know it’s likely not to happen, but if it does, it will come as a total surprise because I’m sure the Braves FO won’t let it be known until the last minute that they’re interested in him.. 

And trade JJ..  He shows potential all the time, but then gets hurt and completely regresses.  It happens every year almost. 

Are you  serious you want to make Prado a utility player again??  If we can’t get Reyes (like i said before, pipe dream) then move Prado to SS and look for a possible LF in a JJ trade.

quadbravesfan
3 years 11 months ago

Lefty starters aren’t a giant need.  Plus Gilmartin should be ready quickly.

DK8
3 years 11 months ago

What good is shedding salary if you can’t spend the money to improve significantly?  Reyes is the only FA who is a clear-cut upgrade for the Braves.

There are probably some LF bats that could be upgrades, but with Prado penciled in LF for next year, Wren would have to believe this year is more representative of Prado’s talent than the past 3.  From 2008-2010, Prado was a .350+ wOBA player and he’s more or less average in LF.  Are there any FA’s out there that are a clear upgrade over that?  If so, they will be expensive…

quadbravesfan
3 years 11 months ago

Perfect deal: Minor for Alonzo. Minor provides a stabilizing presence in a Reds rotation full of question marks.  Alonzo gives the Braves a solid bat and I think we can deal with his Hawpe like LF Defense.  Or we could do Jurrjens instead and try to pry Cozart too (pipe dream).  But Juan Francisco is intriguing.

MLB_in_the_Know
3 years 11 months ago

Braves do not need another LH bat in their everyday lineup. 
This would make 5 LH, 1 RH, 1 Switch with SS to fill.

quadbravesfan
3 years 11 months ago

Lefty starters aren’t a giant need.  Plus Gilmartin should be ready quickly.

chico65
3 years 11 months ago

Still two more posts to go there, “quad”

3 years 11 months ago

yeah, I agree, lets do costanza for kemp..come on wren make it happen.